Supplement to “Wandering Vines”
Akebia (Akebia quinata). Is it a fast-growing vine or an out-of-control weed? Your call, but if you plant this twining vine be prepared to prune it regularly. Although it is deciduous, in early spring it has flowers and in fall purple pods. Also known as chocolate vine, it is easy to grow in many different conditions.
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Seen on university buildings across the country, this woody vine can scale walls, trees, fences, and posts—climbing 25 to 40 feet in a season. Be certain you want it before you plant it, because it is hard to remove. In the fall, it has a beautiful crimson to burgundy color.
English ivy (Hedera helix). Careful is the word with this nonetheless popular vine. It is so strong it can pull the mortar off between bricks.
Boston ivy Parthenocissus (Parthenocissus tricuspidata). Often confused with English ivy, this deciduous, self-clinging vine has large leaves that turn orange to deep red in fall. Its blue-black berries attract birds and bees. This is the ivy to plant on a masonry wall because it will not pull the mortar out. However, it is also an invasive plant and will cover not just the wall but everything around it, including native plants, if not pruned regularly.
For a list of other invasives, go to www.se-eppc.org click on “State Chapters/Kentucky” then “Exotic Plants List” for a complete list of plants that the Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council considers a threat to native plant communities in Kentucky.
Native plants are a boon for wildlife and make it easy for gardeners because they have had centuries to adapt to Kentucky’s climate. They’re not always easy to find at garden centers, however.
But they are easy to find the last Saturday in April and and last Saturday in August. That’s when the Salato Wildlife Education Center sponsors their semi-annual native plant sale. All the plants are $5 or $6, and the sale starts at 9 a.m. outside the Salato Wildlife Education Center.
“A lot of the plants are drought-tolerant,” says Mary Carol Cooper, native plant program coordinator. “They are used to our climate, used to our bugs and weather, and easy to care for because they have adapted to Kentucky over years and years.”
The Salato Wildlife Education Center, part of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is located at #1 Sportsman’s Lane in Frankfort.
For more information, call Cooper at (502) 564-5280.
Are you a good gardener who would like to learn even more and help others?
If so, the Master Gardener program may be for you. The Master Gardener program was created in Washington state in 1973 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Extension Service to meet an enormous increase in requests for horticulture information from home gardeners. As American life has become more urban and more transient, the program has spread to all 50 states.
Master Gardeners help county Cooperative Extension agents reach more residents who have gardening problems by visiting garden sites, working in information booths at community events and malls, answering gardening questions at Extension offices, teaching horticulture to beginning gardeners, and using special talents such as writing, photography, and drawing to benefit others.
To become a Master Gardener, you must complete a rigorous program presented in county Extension offices taught by horticulture agents, horticulture professionals, and academics. The classes consist of lecture, hands-on labs, and site visits to gardens in the county, such as a visit to an arboretum for a class in shrub and tree pruning.
Here is a sample curriculum from one county’s Master Gardener class:
• Botany—plant parts and functions
• Soils and fertilizers
• Landscape design
• Selecting and planting woody plants
• Care of trees and shrubs
• Turf grass management
• Annual and perennial flowers
• Indoor plant selection and care
• Vegetable gardening
• Growing fruits
• Home composting
• Basic concepts in plant pathology
• Basics of entomology
• Organic gardening
• Understanding pesticides
• Basic communication for Master Gardeners
• Record keeping
In addition, we were supplied a binder full of material, many USDA publications and fact sheets, and had required reading in the book Botany for Gardeners.
The title Master Gardener is not automatic after completion of the course work, however. There is a take-home quiz at the end of each teaching module, which is graded by the instructor. There is also a final exam that you must pass.
After you pass the final, you have one year to give the Extension service 40 hours of volunteer time. Only then do you become a Master Gardener. In subsequent years, you must give 10 hours of volunteer time to maintain your status as a Master Gardener.
For information about the Master Gardener program in your county, contact your county Cooperative Extension office. A list county offices can be found at www.ca.uky.edu/county
To read the Kentucky Living March 2007 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Wandering Vines